"we fired one Gun at the Fort just as she was sinking I saved 2 Revolvers and most of us saved something-some of us saved our bags some hammocks some all and several saved nothing except theirselves" — Excerpt from the diary of George Roberts Yost, 15-year-old Crewman
As there was very little time for saving personal belongings, thousands of personal items were abandoned to the river as the gunboat went swiftly to the bottom of the muddy Yazoo.
The crew had to abandon things such as U.S. brass belt buckles and silk Cairo hat bands, and shaving gear that included razors, shaving cups, and brushes. Other personal accessories found included soap dishes and different glass ink wells used by the sailors, as well as toothbrush handles, mirrors and hard rubber combs. All but two of the combs were found in the Quarter Master's storeroom, evidently not issued to the men. The combs are stamped U.S. Navy on one side and I.R. COMB CO. GOODYEAR'S PATENT MAY 6, 1851, on the other.
Most government-issue shoes of the Civil War period had a common last, but Cairo's leather shoes were lefts and rights. One of the boat's officers had bunions, as was evidenced by the heavy work boots which had been cut and patched (far left).
The personal items recovered from the USS Cairo reflect the diverse training and backgrounds of the sailors. A U.S. Marine Corps hat insignia (upper left) was found on the gunboat, along with a tin canteen, wooden carvings (scrimshaw) (lower right), and several ambrotypes (early type of photograph). One of the ambrotypes is of a woman and young girl, perhaps the wife and daughter of one of Cairo's crew.
Last updated: April 14, 2015